fight for the right to Rock
Soviet times Ukraine was a leader in the fight of free-minded people and
dissidents. Oppression was such that
the smallest step toward an opposite viewpoint was punished very severely,
seemingly even more severely than in Moscow.
during the Cold War was considered an ideological diversion. Only during
Khrushchev’s rule, when the situation became a bit looser, did rock bands begin
to appear in Ukraine, at about the end of 60’s. It was a result of the
evolution of “driving beats” and “Rhythm and Blues” artists such as.Berezen,
Druge Dykhannya, and “The Once”.
part of the 60s’ marked the rapid growth of pro-western youth movements.
Students were creating different musical groups, practicing in their dorms,
trying to imitate Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and others.
Tape cassettes of western rock bands were
copied and spread out amongst the music lovers. At the same time, new local
bands were recording their own tapes, which were going from one hand to another
along with the western recordings. Concerts were gathering a lot of music fans
and you were considered very lucky to make it in. At times you even could find
the repercussions of rock’n’roll’s
popularity on radio and television.
suddenly, at the beginning of the 70’s this massive movement was interrupted.
All rock bands were driven underground such as the Eney band.. Some were turned
into professional “Vocal Instrumental Bands”, and thus tightly controlled by the
State, like “Oreol” and “Arnika”.
The reasons for the clampdown arose out of
the tragic events in Prague, Czechoslovakia, known as “Prague Spring” or the
“Spring of Freedom” when in 1968 the Czech freedom movement was crushed by
Soviet tanks. Those events echoed tremendously in the USSR. Departments of the
KGB’s secret police began to grow rapidly and their fight against dissidence
grew as well.
Rock music was one of their targets. Whole systems of prohibitions and
restrictions were implemented. Rock music was banned while Soviet pop culture
and “adapted” folk music was propagandized.
remained musicians and fans interested in rock and alternative music. That
interest continued to grow even more so in light of it being “banned and
prohibited”. The atmosphere of the underground’s secret concerts were appealing
brought a unique underground movement not only in music but also in literature
and the arts.
At the same time, the 70s also included years
of “Developed Socialism” such as with the Vocal Instrumental Bands (VIA). Each
“VIA” band was based in a regional philharmonic theater, with each theater
having its own art and administrative director. Musicians were performing only
songs, which were approved by the higher authorities and “created” by members
of the “Composers Association”. Musicians could play their own songs only after
the Art Councils, members of which were also members of the Communist Party and
Composers Associations, approved them.
result, the real rock’n’rollers along with those who opposed the existing
rules, moved on to genres, which were outside of the Soviet censors
control. They played music that didn’t
require too many lyrics, and was popular, such as jazz-rock and art-rock as
well as other variations along this line of music. Well-known bands of this era were “Krok”, “Reportazh”, “Krosword”
brought new hope to the musical and art landscape of Ukraine. The USSR’s
economic system was imploding and rotting away. The wave of freedom could be felt in the air. The Saint
Petersburg-Moscow “Red Wave” musical movement was spread widely throughout the
USSR as opposition to the existing Regime’. It was a time of tape recorders, of
home recordings and hundreds of rerecorded cassette tapes. Bands like
“Zoopark”, “Kino”, “Akvarium”, “Alica” were the monsters of the Soviet rock
“blossoming” of rock music at the end
of 1980s was inspired by Michail Gorbachev’s “Perestroika” (in Ukrainian
“perebudova”). All the terms of “openness” and “accelerated prosperity” became
popular. The legalization of rock music exploded like a whirlwind. Rock clubs
began appearing in every city. All
Philharmonic “VIA” bands fled their former “masters”, as the freedom to
“rock” was re-born.
rock club “Kuznya” gave birth to such well known Ukrainian hard rock bands as
“Edem”, Perron”, “Kvartira 50”, “Komy Vniz”, “Titanik” and alternative bands
“Kolez’kyi Asesor”, “Vopli Vodoplyasova” and “Rabbota Kho”. All played numerous concerts, constantly organizing
various promotions and festivals, as clubs all over the country began working
as one big musical mechanism. The rock
and music clubs during that time created a “ symbiosis” of rehearsal bases, concert
stages, informational centers as well as recording and distribution companies.
The end of
the 80’s gave way to a new form of
musician, oriented toward the ideals of a national revival of Ukraine.
Their ideals were born out of the
powerful “Chervona Ruta” festival, which was a gathering point for Ukraine’s
nationally aware, conscious, and creative populace. The highlight was the
festival in Chernivtsi in 1989 when such famous bands as “Braty Gadyukiny”,
“Vika Vradiy”, Zymovyi Sad”, “Komu Vnyz” and “VV” (Vopli Vodoplyasova) were
heard for the first time.
wave alot of unique and original Ukrainian bands appeared in Ternopil’,
Ivano-Frankivs’k, L’viv, and Kyiv,
which were completely different from all others in that they were employing
The beginning of the 90s witnessed a search
for a National Identity among Ukrainian artists and enthusiasts to find their
“niche” in the worlds oceans of musical styles and trends.
However, the absence of a developed music
industry and minimal show business infrastructure served as a deterrent to
musicians’ efforts in surviving financially.
Many became involved in related fields in order to support their musical
aspirations. They created recording studios on their own, built equipment,
became concert organizers, produced their own albums, etc. As opposed to
pop-music, nobody was able to make a career in rock. No one became rich playing rock.. It was vice versa.
It remains obvious to us that Ukrainian rock
is a pure art form of creative, openhearted people.